Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Monday, April 29, 2013, 12:35 PM

MSNBC counts the total number of GTMO detainees participating in the hunger strike at 100.  Reuters reporters David Ingram and Jane Sutton examine court consideration of prison hunger strikes in the past and find that judges typically find in favor of the needs of operating a prison over prisoners' rights to control their bodies.

Meanwhile, former GTMO detainee Omar Khadr's attorneys say they will be appealing his guilty plea and conviction in a U.S. court. While his attorneys say a victory there would free Mr. Khadr, who was transferred to Canada last year, Canada's government says its Parole Board will have the final say, not the U.S. Here's the Globe and Mail with those details.

It now well-known that the elder Tsarnaev brother took a six-month trip to Russia. Scott Shane and David Herszenhorn of the Times provide the latest on the FBI's inquiry into the trip.  Bill Chappell of NPR shared details of a conversation taped by Russian authorities between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother, Zubiedat, that "vaguely discussed" jihad. Scott Shane says that Russia informed the FBI upon hearing two such conversations.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Zubeidat was placed on the terrorism watchlist around the same time that Tamerlan was. Jackson Diehl, the Post's Deputy Editorial Page Editor, is skeptical of help from Russia on counterterrorism. He writes:

It was Putin’s own refusal to distinguish legitimate Chechen demands for independence from terrorism that created the jihadist movement in the North Caucasus, which in turn helped to radicalize the Tsarnaevs. By refusing to support secular demands for democratic change in Syria, Putin is now helping to produce a new generation of extremists. Far from being a partner in counterterrorism, Vladi­mir Putin is one of the larger sources of the problem.

And given the Tsarnaevs' ties to the region, we're now paying close attention to Dagestan. Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee conducted a raid in Dagestan that killed two individuals, one of whom is a suspect in bombings targeting local police convoys. Here's Andrew Roth of the Times.

The FBI is looking into "persons of interest" who may be connected to the bombing, reports Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post.  Some say Mikhail Allakhverdov---or "Misha"---nudged Tamerlan towards radical Islam.  But Misha denied being the brothers' teacher, and said that he would have tried to stop the attacks, had he known about them. Here's Mark Memmott's story over at NPR.  The New York Review of Books's Christian Caryl interviewed Misha, and her piece can be found here.

Bloomberg's Terry Atlas and Greg Stohr say that municipal officials in Boston, New York, and other cities are aiming to boost surveillance on their streets, now that they've seen, firsthand, the value enhanced surveillance can have in investigating crime and terrorism.

On "Face the Nation," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called the Boston bombing a case of "pre-9/11 stove-piping." Here's the clip:

Graham's fellow GOP Senator Chuck Grassley says intelligence agencies suffer from a lack of "true leadership." He wonders whether we've forgotten the lessons of 9/11.

And over the weekend, the FBI apprehended another person suspected of sending ricin-laced envelopes to President Obama and other government officials. Everett Dutschke was arrested, based on tips from a previous suspect---whom authorities falsely had charged, but then swiftly released upon discovering their error. Here's NPR with more.

Syria's Prime Minister was targeted in a suicide bombing today; he survived, although at least six others were killed. Reuters has the details, as do Anne Barnard and Alan Cowell of the Times. And Jordan's King Abdullah II is back in the U.S. and pushing for greater American involvement in the conflict, says Joby Warrick in the Post.

Members of Congress are going on the record with their feelings about U.S. intervention in Syria: Senator Claire McCaskill doesn't want us to rule out putting boots on the ground, while Senator John McCain says that is the "the worst thing" we could do. Congressman Mike Rogers says action needs to be taken; here, Rogers seems to have in mind the supply of additional weapons and training to anti-Assad forces.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton penned this op-ed in the Journal critiquing Obama's "red line" principle.

Pirates kidnapped five sailors off of Nigeria's cost. Here's the AP story on that.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban launched their "spring offensive" with a roadside suicide bombing.  It killed three police officers in southern Afghanistan. The AP reports.

Apropos of Afghanistan: you shouldn't miss Matthew Rosenberg's New York Times piece about the cash the CIA doles out to President Hamid Karzai, his family and his supporters.

The British Ministry of Defense has admitted that it participated in the U.S.'s drone program in Iraq. Here's the Daily Mail with more details, and the Telegraph as well.

As the national elections inch closer, things in Pakistan continue to trend on the violent side---a suicide bomber killed 9 people  in Peshawar, including two Afghan government officials, according to Ismail Khan's and Declan Walsh's story in the Times.

Those Pakistani judges keep coming up with new charges against former President Pervez Musharraf.  The latest allegation is that Musharraf had some role in the death of Pakistan's former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Salman Masood documents the latest in the Times.

Late last week, the DOJ indicted a woman for espionage on behalf of Cuba. She is a former State Department employee, Georgetown Law alumna, and Princeton grad. Read Jim Popkin's Post piece.

Speaking of spies, the Times's Andrew Higgins wrote over the weekend that Georgian investigators are taking a second crack at solving the 1993 murder of a CIA official, Freddie Woodruff, in Tbilisi.  Georgian police blamed a "random shot" by a drunken soldier, but witnesses in the trial later recanted their testimony, saying they'd been tortured and forced to blame Woodruff's death on the drunkard.

And Robert Beckhusen has this piece detailing a 1965 CIA mission to bring a plutonium-powered generator to the Himalayas. That's over at Wired's Dangerroom blog.

And just like that, cybersecurity legislation appears to have died in the Senate. Leslie Harris of the Center for Democracy and Technology says in the Huffington Post that her organization's internet campaign helped to defeat CISPA. Bill co-sponsor Dutch Ruppersberger says that Anonymous also threatened him and other supporters with cyberattacks if the bill moved forward.

U.S. News and World Report says the Senate is working on its own cybersecurity bill.  Compared to CISPA, this legislation allegedly would better protect private companies which share information with the government.

In a similar vein, the White House has changed its mind about private sector cybersecurity standards. The White House's preferred solution now involves voluntary, not mandatory, measures. Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post has the details.

Ms. Nakashima also had this story in the Post about draft surveillance legislation.  This would pressure technology companies like Facebook and Google to provide access to online communications; the corporations would face incrementally increasing fines for failing to do so. Unsurprisingly, internet freedom advocates aren't too pleased about the proposal.

In case you're wondering what a distributed denial of service attack looks like, has posted this video illustrating a DDoS cyber strike.  This sends me back to my Game Boy days.

Over at Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Richelson and Malcolm Byrnie write about a recently-declassified NSA document from 1997, which detailed the agency's role in developing information warfare and cyberwar techniques. And as sequestration austerity takes hold, DARPA has cut a number of contracts related to cybersecurity, reported the Washington Business Journal last week. For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter and check out the Lawfare News Feed, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief,  Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.